Oct 4 2016

Trebah Plans

The management team at Trebah are determined to work with all interested parties and organisations with interests in and around the Helford River. We have recently received from them the following proposal for securing Trebah beach, improving access and securing the route of the South West Coast Path.

Trebah is unique among Cornwall’s major visitor attractions in having its own beach which opens onto the beautiful Helford River, acting as both an important amenity asset for its visitors as well as helping to protect the bottom of this important garden. However the tranquil setting belies its remarkable heritage as the most westerly embarkation beach for the US Forces prior to D-Day.

Securing the beach

The US Forces constructed their embarkation site at Trebah prior to D-Day by building a concrete retaining groyne down the exposed (south-east facing) side of the beach and driving in sheet metal piling across the bottom of the beach below the low tide mark. They then overlaid the beach with a concrete apron, using it in early June 1944 to load 7,500 men of the US 29th Division on to Landing Ship Tanks (LSTs), with all their equipment, vehicles and tanks.

After the war the concrete apron was removed, but the concrete groyne and sheet piling were left in place, and a narrow slipway was added alongside the groyne. The beach is very vulnerable to south-easterly storms, and the groyne, slipway and sheet piling together help to retain a significant depth of sand and shingle. This beach material provides a significant line of defence to the bottom of the garden and the fresh-water lake, which would probably otherwise have been breached by recent storms.

However these storms have undermined the slipway and seriously weakened its fabric, and it is now in a dangerous state. Further storms will inevitably hasten its break-up, leading to erosion of the beach with consequent damage to the garden.

The proposed works will retain the original concrete groyne, but remove the damaged slipway, and reinstate with a new concrete structure of the same dimensions. This should provide the garden with long-term protection from coastal erosion.

Improving access

The public coastal path runs between the beach and the garden, and to get onto the beach, visitors to Trebah have to negotiate a steep and narrow flight of steps which takes them over the coastal path. This effectively prevents access to the beach to anyone with limited mobility, and also presents difficulties for many of its older visitors and for those with young families.

A number of options to improve access have been considered, but only one would satisfy the conditions of being fully accessible and visually unobtrusive. Currently the coastal path from the east descends to beach level before running behind the boathouse, where it passes under the bridge taking garden visitors to the beach. The proposed new route would keep the coastal path at a high level along the rear of the boathouse, before descending down steps to rejoin the existing path, allowing a new level route connecting the garden and beach to be created to the side of the boathouse. An additional benefit is that there is a very vulnerable portion of the coastal path that is currently in danger of being lost to erosion; rerouting the coastal path would anticipate this event, and allow natural erosion to continue.

Photos by Colin Higgs

Aug 10 2016

Anna Maria Creek Progress

The Helford River Association have been informed by the Principal Development Officer (Enforcement) of Cornwall Council, that they have completed their investigations with the boat owner at Anna Maria Creek, whom it appears has once again been using his vessel for residential purposes whilst moored there.

The Enforcement Officer said that it should be noted that the level of residential use does not appear to be full time, with the occupier often working away or residing locally with friends and relatives.

It appears that a breach of planning control and or a breach of the requirements of an existing enforcement notice, may have occurred and the Council has requested that residential use cease as soon as is practicably possible.

In that regard, the Council has afforded the boat owner a period of eight weeks to fulfil this request. The boat owner has assured them that within this period the necessary steps will be taken and that in all probability, whilst not a requirement, the boat will be removed from the creek altogether.

The Council say they will be inspecting the land on the 11th October 2016 to ensure that the residential use of the vessel has ceased as agreed.

Jul 15 2016

Duchy Oyster Farm To End Operations

After more than ten years of oyster farming on the Helford River, the Duchy of Cornwall Oyster Farm Company will close its operations from 2017. The business has operated from Duchy premises since 2005.

Talks about the future of the oyster farm began earlier this year with the Duchy wishing to reclaim the site in Port Navas whilst the occupant looked to focus on their wholesale and restaurant business.

By mutual agreement, the premises, including the buildings and quay will be returned to Duchy management by April next year. The occupant will sell all existing stock and ensure the site is in a suitable condition for the cultivation of native oysters in the future.

Chris Gregory, Land Steward for the Duchy of Cornwall said:

“The joint decision of the Duchy and the occupant to end the Helford oyster farming agreement provides us with an opportunity to consider how the oysterage is used in the future. We look forward to doing that in conjunction with the local community, over the course of the coming months.”

A spokesperson for Wright Brothers, the owner of the Duchy of Cornwall Oyster Farm Company said:

“It has been an amazing 11 years in a very special part of Cornwall. We are very proud of what we have achieved, notably creating 8 full-time, year-round jobs and contributing well over £1m to the local economy. We are sad that this has come to an end but we shall now focus on our restaurants and wholesale businesses and we continue to work closely with oyster farmers all over the UK, Europe and America.”

Jun 13 2016

The Helford River Association Presentation On The Road

Helford River Association executive director Georgie Higgs has in the last month, been giving the Association’s PowerPoint presentation to parish councils within the Helford and East Lizard area.

The presentation has already been well received at Mawnan Smith, St. Keverne and St. Mawgan In Meneage, where it has been shown to parish councillors and interested members of the public.

The feedback from the councillors and public is that it is good to be aware of the HRA and it is useful to build contacts between the Association and the respective councils as a multi-agency approach can often be the way to solving environmental problems that concern us all.

Georgie has been using these meetings a recruitment drive and is actively seek in new members. The next presentation is at Manaccan Village Hall at 19:30 on June the 27th.

Jun 10 2016

Illegal Immigrants Story “Blown Out Of Proportion”

Following reports in the local and national press of a people smuggling ring operating in the Helford River, a local Police Community Support Officer described the reports as “blown out of proportion”.

When speaking to a Falmouth Packet reporter, PCSO Chris Braddon said he had recently wrote to boat owners in the Helford area following reports of “suspicious persons” of possible “foreign descent” arriving at off times, but said people are reading far more into it than they should.

He said: “We had a report of suspicious behaviour, and unfortunately we didn’t get to hear about it at the time. We had some information which may or may not have been linked to immigration. We circulated the information to people in the marine community to make them aware”.

“Yes, there’s potential wherever you live along the coastline, but that’s all there is to it.” Commented PCSO Braddon

In a letter to local boat owners, he wrote: “I wish to make you aware of some suspicious behaviour we have had reported to us in the Helford area over the past week. This is where a small boat has come ashore at unusual hours with a number of suspicious persons aboard believed to be of a foreign descent. There is evidence nationally to suggest that people smugglers are increasingly looking to use small boats to ferry illegal immigrants across the channel and this could be a suggestion they are landing in our area”.

In 2010 a gang of Albanians were arrested in Staffordshire and charged with stealing “high end” outboard motors from the Helford River. There was a suggestion that they were combining their burglarious activities with that of landing illegal immigrants, although it must be stressed, no evidence of this was ever forthcoming.

If you see unusual or suspicious activity, report it to your local police on 101, or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, and quote “KRAKEN”.

May 27 2016

Local Planning Inspector says Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status carries “only moderate weight”

A plan to build 28 new homes at Swanpool only a couple of miles from the Helford, have been given the go ahead by the planning inspectorate in a ruling which overturns a previous decision by Cornwall Council.

Cornwall Council had objected to the plans by Linden Homes on the grounds that the development would affect the local setting, in particular an adjacent Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

However at a hearing last week, inspector Jonathan Manning decided that the social and economic benefits of the development were “not significantly and demonstrably outweighed” by the concerns of objectors, and overruled Cornwall Council’s decision to refuse the scheme.

He said: “The proposal would make provision for 28 new dwellings, including affordable units towards the council’s housing land supply. There would also be some associated economic benefits.

“I consider that these benefits attract a significant level of weight in the scheme’s favour, particularly given the council’s position in relation to housing land supply.

“On the other hand, I have identified that the proposal would cause some harm to the character and appearance of the area, including to a minor degree to the setting of the AONB, which carries moderate weight against the scheme.

“The proposal constitutes sustainable development, when the Framework is considered as a whole.”

Mr Manning chose not to award costs to Linden Homes, which the company had threatened Cornwall Council with when it resubmitted its application, as he found the council had not acted unreasonably in refusing the application.

May 25 2016

Anna Maria Creek

Cornwall Councillor John Bastin has revealed that the council restarted enforcement action against an individual at Anna Maria Creek only three years ago, but tight lipped council officers have yet to tell the elected member who that person was.

We are awaiting Councillor Bastin to return our calls with more information when and if he ever finds out what action was taken.

May 11 2016

Anna Maria Creek

Plans are underway to remove a collection of rotting hulks from a once-beautiful backwater on the Helford River, as well as ensuring that a similar situation does not arise again.

Members of the Helford River Association met with local Cornwall Councillor John Bastin and constituency MP George Eustice to discuss the future of Anna Maria creek, on the north bank of the Helford near to Mawnan Smith.

The various parties are hoping to organise a programme of clearances which would see the decrepit boats, many of which have been abandoned by their owners, cut up and disposed of, while also creating a registration system for anyone mooring in the creek, to allow them to be traced if necessary.

Georgie Higgs, executive director of the Helford River Association, said there were two main issues: one with people illegally using boats in the creek as homes, and another with abandoned boats which had been left to rot.

In fact, the parish council secured an enforcement notice on one person living on a boat in 2010, but six years later she said the unitary authority does not appear to have taken any further action.

Mrs Higgs said: “It’s really an unpleasant sight for such a beautiful creek.

“It’s a beautiful area: It’s got charm, and elegance, it’s unspoilt. Somebody said ‘if I was here 50 years ago, and came back today, it would seem the same.’ And that’s what we are trying to do.”

The association is planning on hiring a skip and dismantling the rotting boats which litter the creek, as well as organising a litter pick event with local volunteers.

Mrs Higgs said: “I think it’s fair to say that those that are rotting, and sinking, and embedded in the mud, are safe to move. The ones that are moored are going to be more problematic.”

She added that nothing could be done about boats that were moored out in the stream, but those shore side could be dealt with.

Mr Bastin, the Cornwall Councillor for Constantine, Mawnan and Budock, said the “bottom line” was people using the creek for “a free water mooring, as opposed to going to Falmouth or Penryn where you pay.”

He said he was hoping, with the hope of Mr Eustice, to set up a register which boat owners were required to enter if they were to moor in the creek. This would allow the council to chase up owners who abandoned their boats.

One problem is that there is uncertainty about who owns sections of the river bank. The HRA and council believed it was Diocese of Truro land, but a spokesperson for the diocese told the Packet that is not the case.

Mr Bastin said it was “a bit of a no-man’s-land,” and added that some of the boats were being tied to posts on landowners property, “which isn’t fair.”

Mr Eustice said in a statement: “I am in touch with the Marine Management Organisation in order to find out who is responsible for these boats. I will be writing to relevant parties and seeking to meet with them to ensure that these wrecks are dealt with appropriately.”

A spokesperson for Cornwall Council said no permission was needed for people choosing to live on boats situated below the mean low water level, but planning permission would be required if a boat was above that line and no longer in use for navigation, which would lead to a material change of use of the land.

Regarding the boat which was served with a notice in 2010, the spokesperson said: “Cornwall Council served a planning enforcement notice on the occupier of a boat at Anna Maria Creek in March 2010. The boat was confirmed to have been removed during a site visit in September 2013, therefore the Council is satisfied that the notice was complied with.”

A police spokesperson confirmed to the Packet that an altercation recently broke out between two men at the creekside, reported locally as having been between a boat owner and a volunteer attempting to tidy the creek.

Police said “two reports of assault following an argument between two men, both in their 50s” on the morning of Friday, April 8, with neither man taking legal action.

May 10 2016

HRA Presentation

The Helford River Association’s Executive Director Georgie Higgs has started to roll out a new programme of presentations aimed at parish councils and community organisations across our area and surrounding districts, outlining the history, values and aim of our organisation.

The PowerPoint presentation shows local statutory bodies the origins of the HRA and is illustrated with many slides demonstrating our sphere of interest in the Helford and its environs from the founding of the association in 1966 up to the present day, including issues such as Anna Maria Creek and Helford Chapel. Georgie aims to show the public our achievements over the last 50 years and our plans for the future.

The inaugural showing to Mawnan Smith Parish Council (and despite a technical breakdown half way through), the message of the HRA was very well received by both councillors and the public alike. As a result, Mawnan Smith Parish Council have requested that the HRA presentation is now available on their website for all to see at mawnansmith.org.uk

Look out for a date near you in the next few months and please come along and show your support for Cornwall’s oldest environmental charity.

Dates of forthcoming presentations:

  • St Keverne: 2nd June
  • St Martin: 6th June
  • Mawgan: 15th June
  • Manaccan: 27th June

© The Helford River Association · Jackplug Websites